Your Basset Hound is a large, long dog that was bred as a hunting hound. It’s a friendly, mellow, family dog that’s a cheerful companion to kids. Your Basset has one of the best noses of any dog because of the large number of olfactory receptor cells in its nose and its long, droopy ears, which trap scents. Your Basset was bred in France to hunt rabbits and other small game.

Like all dog breeds, Bassets are more likely to be afflicted by certain diseases and disabilities than other dogs. They are particularly vulnerable to back problems, elbow dysplasia, and ear infections.

Back Problems and Herniated Discs in Basset Hounds

Bassets have short legs and long bodies, so they are likely to develop back problems over time, particularly herniated discs. Bassets’ shape puts perpetual stress on their backs.

Dogs’ spines are very similar to humans’. Like us, dogs have disc-shaped cushions that separate their vertebra from each other and absorb shocks. When those cushions become inflamed or slide out of place, they cause your Basset pain and, sometimes, make them unable to walk.

This condition is known as slipped or herniated disc. As with humans, dogs’ nerves are inside their spinal cord. So a herniated disc can cause nerve damage. Because of Bassets’ strained backs, they are particularly susceptible to this disability.

If a Basset suffers from a slipped disc, they might lose motor function or become paralyzed. They might benefit from the use of a specialized wheelchair for dogs, which can preserve their mobility.

Elbow Dysplasia in Basset Hounds

Elbow dysplasia is a condition that can affect the health of Bassets’ joints. The condition causes a loose fragment of bone in the elbow joint. If a Basset experiences this malformation, they are much more likely to develop arthritis in the affected elbow.

Elbow dysplasia can cause damage to a Basset’s cartilage, which is extremely painful: if a dog loses cartilage, its bones will start to scrape against each other. This chafing can cause nerve damage and arthritis, and could cause your Basset to become lame in the affected leg.

Signs that your Basset has elbow dysplasia include a loss in mobility, or a tendency to favor one leg over another. Your Basset might be reluctant to run, or have a harder time standing up than they used to. Fortunately, elbow dysplasia can be corrected or mitigated with surgery.

Ear Infections and Ear Mites in Basset Hounds

Bassets have large, floppy ears that can drag on the ground. This leaves them vulnerable to ear infections, including ear mites.

If your Basset has an ear infection, you’ll notice the same sorts of symptoms that you’d see in an infection close to human skin. They might have red, warm, or inflamed ear canals, sometimes with wet or dark debris from the ear. Often, the ear will emit a bad odor.

Your dog might scratch at the infection, which can cause further inflammation and irritation. You should try to keep the dog from scratching at the ear infection too frequently or too hard, as they can damage their ear tissue permanently if they are too persistent.

Fortunately, infections are easily treated with antibiotics and antifungal cleansers. Ear infections are painful and irritating, but they’re not dangerous if they’re caught. Take your dog to the vet to have them examined, and you’ll be able to treat them with an antibiotic prescription or anti-fungal cleaner recommendation. Make sure that you give your dog the full prescription at the time the vet prescribes, or the infection could come back.

Consult Your Vet

This guide doesn’t list every disease that could affect your Basset Hound, but it can give you a sense of what to watch out for. And remember—if your dog has any of these diseases, they should be treated by a veterinarian.

Learn More About Your Basset Hound’s Health

Basset Hound — Pet MD

How To Get Rid of Ear Mites in Dogs — Pet MD

Inner Ear Infection (Otitis Interna) in Dogs — VCA Veterinary Hospitals

Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention — American Kennel Club

Disc disease — UC Davis Veterinary Medicine

Basset Hound Elbow Dysplasia — Universities Federation for Animal Welfare